History melds coastline into military resort
By Cindy Stearns
Published: 11/11/19 Topics: Comments:
It began as an area inhabited by the Quinault Indian Nation. These people populated the North Beach area including what is now Pacific Beach. Their families hunted sea otters and whales via canoe.
Settlers began to arrive in the 1870s and sea otters were expended because of their prized furs. Clams soon overtook otters as the local primary food supply. Clam digging became so vital and a part of North Beach life, classes at the first school opened in 1900 on the nearby Copalis River, were scheduled according to the tides.
Pacific Beach was known as a cannery and sawmill town. And in 1902, another evolution brought a change to the coast. The Northern Pacific Railway linked this dot on the North Beach to the twin harbor towns of Hoquiam and Aberdeen. Pacific Beach was now a resort destination. With an ocean beach almost two miles long, the Pacific Beach Hotel opened in 1906.
After a fire in 1915, the hotel was rebuilt with 50 rooms and added 25 cabins by 1930. During its peak, there were well-known guests including the actor, Frederick Marsh. It became known as one of the Pacific Northwest's idyllic honeymoon destinations.
By 1942, hotel business had declined, due to wartime travel and fuel limitations. The hotel was identified as underused facility that could be quickly transformed to barracks. The Navy purchased the hotel and grounds for use as an anti-aircraft-gunnery training school. The
Navy and Air Force converted the rooms into regional headquarters for training anti-aircraft recruits.
After World War II, the facility was offered to the local community for $1. With Pacific Beach being unincorporated, the sale could not be completed. The base sat idle until 1950 when the Air Force moved in and used it as a radar station for five years.
Following years of inactivity, Naval Facility engineers redeveloped the base between 1957-1958. It was disestablished in October of 1987, transferred to Naval Station Puget Sound. It then was under the direction of Naval Station Everett. Under Commander Naval Station guidance, the facility is now an active part of Fleet & Family Readiness (MWR).
During 2000-2001, the hotel building underwent a complete renovation. The restaurant is open to the public. In 2010 a multi-million dollar renovation project was completed on the 30 cottages.
And when you drive Main Street, following the curve along the beach, you'll find the Pacific Beach Resort & Conference Center. You'll find the hotel, cottages, RV park/camping area, all with an expansive view of the Pacific Ocean.
Author: Cindy Stearns – Editor
Blog #: 0710 – 11/11/19